Thursday, August 25, 2016

To my firstborn on her first day of school


Today you started K4. You are 3 years and 9 months old. I cannot believe we are here. Last night, I was trying so hard to re-experience the feeling of holding and rocking you as a little baby. My mind can remember doing it, but the feelings are not the same. I have enjoyed you in all your stages, but I do wish some days that we could go back, just for a short while, and you could really be my baby again.

I know that K4 is not always "school". But, you are attending K4 at a pretty strict private Christian school. Not a daycare. And next year you'll be in Kindergarten. And then first grade, then 11 more grades. So today is the start of 14 years (gulp!) of academics for you. Wow.

You have had mixed emotions leading up to today, as have I. We have done our best to help you be excited, while still validating and calming your fears. You have been scared about us "leaving you there". But, per your usual, you were excited last night and this morning, and when I walked you into class, you took on the unknown very well. There were no tears from either of us, although after I left you at that big school in the hands of "the unknown" to some degree, I did get a little misty.

Time passed quickly for Caleb and I. He napped, I did housework. It was peaceful. Just a few hours later, I met you at your bus stop. You got off the bus and as I was buckling you in and you were telling me all about your day, I almost lost it. My little baby I love so much had done her first day of school, and loved it, and was now experiencing the big, wide world.

Sophia I want you to know that I am so privileged to be your mommy. You are God's gift and responsibility to us. As we have gone to Open House, and Orientation, it occurred to me that up until now, you have only known stardom in your life. You are so very loved and doted on. At school, while you will be cared for, there will be many many other children also needing attention. You will be in a "herd" of sorts. No one there, or in the world really, loves you and cherishes you like we do. So I hope you grow up knowing that.

I love you very much Sophie Bear. It is bittersweet to see you grow and go. But, just like we thought and you proved by your response today, you are more than ready. May our house and our arms be the place that loves you most and prepares to you to take on the world.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

My Whole30 Review

So I first heard about Whole30 a year or so ago in an online fitness challenge group. At the time it seemed radical and impossible (especially since I was pregnant and the thought of healthy food made me queasy). But then, I saw another blogger do it. And then I heard a couple at church did it. I was coming out of the mommy fog, and needing to do something about that lingering pregnancy weight. I was also really tired of craving sweets ALL.THE.TIME.

So, I gave the website a browse. It didn't seem toooo hard. Another friend of mine said she wanted to join in, and John agreed to do it too. We both of course want to be healthy, but our main motivation was weight loss.

So I printed out their shopping list, took an afternoon and clarified butter, made mayo and ranch, and meal planned. All in all I probably put in 6 hours of prep time before we started, and about 2-3 hours grocery shopping at 2 stores.

I will be honest, it takes planning, cooking, and kitchen cleaning. You'll be spending a lot of time in the kitchen. I don't really mind cooking, so it isn't too bad. I also limited my involved recipes to only twice a week or so. I'm not spending 2 hours a day cooking and cleaning up.

Tonight is our last night of round one. We plan to take the weekend off, then start another round. I will say that I never really had withdrawal symptoms, and I also never really felt "Tiger's Blood" energy that some do. But, I am happy in knowing we are eating much much better food, and setting a better food example. I have lost 5.5 pounds and John has lost 15. Men! I was hoping for more dramatic loss, but, we probably ate more potatoes and bacon than we should have. We are going to try and be more conscientious about that next round.

These are the store bought foods we found essential:
Coconut Aminos (our Publix sells a brand, and it's available online too, used like Soy Sauce)
Coconut milk
Nuts roasted in approved oils (cashews, almonds, sunflower seeds, pistachios, walnuts)
Tomato paste, tomato sauce
Extra light olive oil (for making mayo)
Fruit for snacking
Almond butter
Apple juice (John used this to flavor his LaCroix seltzers)
Apple cider vinegar
Nutpods (a compliant coffee creamer sold on Amazon, for John, I don't drink coffee)
Unsweetened flake coconut (our Publix carried Bob's Red Mill brand)
Bacon (our local family owned butcher shop sells nitrate free uncured bacon)
Alexia brand hash browns (in the freezer section)
Sam's Choice Angus Beef Patties
Aidell's Chicken and Apple Sausages (Publix)

And these are the recipes we tried and liked:
Mayo- I have an immersion blender which made it super easy. If you're freaked out by raw eggs, you can pasteurize them yourself on the stove, I did it for one batch)
Ranch Dressing
Ketchup (I actually combined the seasonings from this one and this one, and omitted the fish sauce, and added water til it got the consistency I wanted)
Marinara/Pasta Sauce (to make Spaghetti over Zoodles)
Turkey Sausage Patties
Paleo Breakfast Bowl
Smoky Sweet Potato Hash
Monkey Salad
Chicken Salad (I could eat gobs of this)
Meatloaf  (I did not make the gravy)
Rosemary Pork Burgers
Chocolate Chili
Hamburger Pie (I used some of the Alexia hashbrowns as a crust)
Garlic Ginger Chicken
Ground Beef and Brussel Sprouts (I added Coconut Aminos)
Apple Cider Vinegar Pork
Shepherd's Pie (I topped with potatoes instead of cauliflower and ground beef instead of lamb)
Mustard Balsamic Chicken
Pork Roast with Apples and Onions
Cracklin' Chicken
Zesty Chicken Bites
Chicken Fajita Bowls
Zucchini Sweet Potato Latkes
Lazy Sunday Pot Roast

Then we'd have dinner salads, chicken stir fry, taco salad, and John smoked a pork shoulder. During the work week we mostly had variations of scrambled eggs, or Monkey Salad. We do bigger cook breakfasts once a week on the weekends. I mostly made double batches of dinner so we could have it for lunch the next day. If I didn't we usually had a salad topped with protein, or a chicken sausage link. For out and about food, we made trail mix with our nuts and raisins. We would have three meals and usually one snack a day.

We didn't have the best Whole30 you can, we could eat more veggies and therefore less meat and potatoes, but we ate veggies at least once a day, and we had NO ADDED SUGARS! for 30 days!!!!!

I also thought these 3 sites had lots of good Whole30 resources
Also want to point out that you really have to read labels- things you think would be approved, sometimes aren't. When 70% of manufactured foods have added sugar, it can be pretty hard to avoid and pop-up in places you don't think of!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Three month catchup

I've wanted so many times to write, but always let other things come first. The opportunity to watch some TV with the hubs, an extra long snuggle at bedtime, unfolded laundry, unmade lunches.

Anyway the kids are at grandma's for the night/half the day, and the hubs is still sleeping. So this is it. Heck I probably wouldn't even be here except my sewing area isn't usable right now.

My what a full three months. The adjustment to two children was hard. Like, really hard. Like, as hard as they all warned you about hard. And although some mom guilt still lingers about how much less time for Sophia I have now, for the most part I am adjusted. I know how much effort it will take to leave the house, run errands, get dinner made, get anything done. I don't know how the single mommas do it. Even just this week after being out of thouse 4 hours with 5 different stops with the kids by myself exhausted me both physically and mentally. More so the latter. Even though I know how much safer car seats make life, it sure would be so much easier if I lived in the day when kids just hopped in the car and the babies laid on a pillow in the back! Ha! Can you imagine? Getting those kids in and out of the car seats multiple times is like ninja tug of war.

John is progressing through school. His spring semester was rough, throwing that new baby in the mix. But by God's grace and mercy he made it through. The summer semester is going much better so far, and I can finally realistically envision his completion. Less than a year to go. We can do this! He doesn't have time for many hobbies, but he is perfecting his chef status with his smoker he got for Christmas. He enjoys smoking various meats and experimenting with different seasonings and techniques. And we enjoy the results :) He also still keeps red worms. Much to the dismay of our fly-filled garage. Ha.

Sophia is growing too fast. She has finally, FINALLY, finally become potty-trained! I should insert a dancing GIF clip here. We felt like this would never happen. But after two visits to the GI doctor where we got better instruction on using her medicine and suggestions on behaviors and routines, it's finally happened. The last hurdle was climbed when the doctor had a few "man to man" words with her and told her she was too big for diapers and needed to try the potty at least once a day, and that she was no longer going to use diapers at nap time. After a couple days of no diapers at nap, when I went to put on her bedtime one, she vehemently told me that the doctor said she was not allowed to wear diapers to bed anymore. I tried to explain that was for nap, (thinking surely she would flood the bed at night) but she persisted. So, we went with it. I double layered the mattress protectors and fitted sheet for a quick middle-of-the-night change if needed. I'm happy to say our accidents have been fairly infrequent.

And, so now that we're diaper free, and the changing pad has been sold, a new world has opened for her. She will be going to preschool this fall. Kindergarten 4 actually. I can't believe it. My baby. We toured the school yesterday. She is still uncertain, and understandably so. I'm still very mixed in my emotions. I have a good feeling that she is going to enjoy it and excel at it. But I also have a few short memories of my own of when I first started preschool, and how terrified I was of my momma leaving me in that big, strange place. My heart hurts to think she might feel that way at first. It's a half-day program with lots of potty breaks, and even snack time with milk and cookies. But it's also academically challenging. If she meets their highest goals she will be reading short sentences by school year's end.

She still adores her brother. Only occasionally does she ask me to let someone else care for him so she can have my time instead. But 99% of the time she wants him to lay next to her, wants to hold him for a little bit, wants to smell his head (all the time!), kiss him, and give him a hug. She often climbs into his crib in the morning to talk to him and coo at him and fawn over him. It's adorable and we are so fortunate. I'm excited for when he can be more physically interactive with her. But his squeals, coos, and smiles thrill us to bits for now.

That brings me to sweet Caleb. He is so cuddly. I think I had forgotten how enjoyable a baby can be. I enjoyed Sophia so much as a toddler that I'd started to think tiny babies were kind of boring. Well, he isn't to me. Don't get me wrong, those first 6-12 weeks are hard. And when they are totally non-interactive and you're desperate for sleep, things are kinda "boring". But now that he's smiling and squealing we are all just falling all over ourselves at his cuteness. Just the other morning we were all in the bed together just enjoying "The Caleb Show" and I felt so blessed. He really cries very little. Only when he is tired or hungry. Over the last month he's started sleeping through the night, in his crib. We still use his swing for naps quite a bit. At this 4 month checkup he was 17 pounds and 26.5 inches with an 18 inch head. He's over 85th percentile for height and weight, and his big ole head is off the charts. For any collared non-stretch pullover shirt he has to have 9-12 months to get it over his big head! His 6 month onesies are getting snug. I did not anticipate him growing so quickly, so I've had to get him larger warm-weather clothes. Thank goodness for second-hand!

We are a one dog household now. Poor sweet devoted Ernie was falling apart after Caleb's arrival. He so craves constant affection, and there just wasn't time to give him any. He was constantly escaping the yard, whining, and getting in the way in general. He went to live with a lady about an hour from us who has several acres, two other Bostons, and no kids. She has sent us a couple update photos and he seems very happy. Eby has become a little more affectionate in his absence, but still remains chill and at times even aloof. And we are totally ok with that. She also sleeps with Sophia at night. That makes everyone happy. Sophia and Eby both don't like to sleep alone, and John and I both don't like Eby in our bed :)

We are currently on Day 10 of a Whole30 program. I had lost all the pregnancy weight, and then gained 12 pounds of it back. I was looking for a way to knock out my insane sugar cravings, and lose weight. Of course setting healthier eating habits is good too :) I have to say that overall, so far, it hasn't been too bad. I plan to do a review post with recipe links once we've completed our first round.

We are going to Wyoming in August! We'll spend a week in the Mayberry-esque town my mother in law (aka Grammy) moved to almost a year ago. We'll visit Yellowstone, pet ponies, and tour her small rural critical access hospital. John hopes to get a job there when he finishes school, and I've committed to live there a year in order for him to realize his dream of living "out west" in Big Sky country. This city girl is nervous about that!

Well, I've been at this an hour and my growling tummy says I better get some healthy food in there before I make a poor choice! See ya'll next time!